[Downsizing Zeal] 100 to 3

“Do you really need it? Do you have their complete discography? You should narrow down your collections from 100… to 3.[1]” After having moved almost everything into the new apartment, my relief over getting my overwhelming housing situation squared away was a 10th of the emotion I felt. More so, I felt disgusted. How could I own so much stuff? So many collections I barely enjoy. If I have 100 collections, I know now I only care about… 3.

It starts off small and big.

If each object I own is like a block, I’ve been developing the mental fortitude to get rid of the biggest items I own that I have the smallest concern over owning. Downsizing is a skill to learn, and professionally, I don’t collect much clutter at my desk, probably because I developed no personal attachment to objects I’d bring in or would receive as gifts. It’s just a matter of learning that on a personal scale. Downsize the easiest stuff first.

Here’s my mental downsizing infrastructure:

  1. The living room has “downsizing racks” to stack anything on the chopping block.
  2. The dining room bookshelves hold anything I’m not overly attached to anymore.
  3. The hallway is for everything going to the dining room.
  4. The spare bedroom is for everything that I should reassess if I want to keep or not.
  5. My bedroom is for everything I want to keep.

I have a weekly downsizing schedule.

On Sundays, I’ll assess everything in the downsizing racks, and put them into keep, resort, or donate piles. Early on in the week, I’ll plan a donation run, and after that space empties, I’ll look through the dining room bookshelves for anything that could go on the chopping block. Subconsciously, my mind will also borrow idle time to shout at me about things it wants gone.

Last week, board games. Today, clothes.

I have so much to do yet that it can be overwhelming, and today I woke up with anxiety over the amount of downsizing and other tasks I needed to do. Like everything in life, the pacing is key, because the clutter will return if I shed too quickly. Saying goodbye to these objects I once loved, cared about, or brought me amusement is an important part of this process.

Some objects are easy to say: “Farewell!”

Those are my current focus objects. If I have 100 collections of things, I don’t need to get to three right away. Tomorrow, I will donate some board games and other things that have been on the downsizing racks for a week or so now. I’ve filtered through any regrets or memories, so I can donate them without any compulsion to retrieve them. Everything is in bags, and they are bags to go now, rather than semi-complex stories that weigh my mind or clutter my place.

It’s too bad I couldn’t donate them today.

The nice thing about that, though, is in my mind there is now a half-carload’s worth of space taken up in my mind that I can address tomorrow. It will be a relief once I clear up that space because not only will my living room be cleaner, but it also means I can move in more dining room space into the area. I have a bunch of pens, pencils, and other paper-based tools that I’ve kept since childhood.

Now, I’m happy to still have everything.

It’s just there’s a lot to consider and my consideration of these things go into three main piles: keep, donate, reconsider. Yesterday, that donate pile was about 90% of the box I was sorting through as I was half-listening to a video I like, with the keep and reconsider piles being just a few things. I wouldn’t have overly regretted losing those items had I donated the whole box, but this is part of the downsizing process.

Occasional time to downsize the biggest stuff.

To walk through my paper-based tool collection downsizing thoughts:

  • I don’t write with pencils anymore.
  • Same with mechanical pencils.
  • I only need a few dozen pens, if that.
  • I am attached to one childhood brand of markers.
  • I’m keeping all of those.
  • I’ll keep anything that’s useful to me.
  • If it looks like trash, I’ll throw it away.
  • Otherwise, most of this is fine to donate.

I stopped after going through the easiest stuff.

When I encounter the slightest bit of mental friction when I’m sorting through stuff to donate, I stop. Especially at first, I couldn’t go for more than 5 minutes because everything was valuable in my mind. 100 pencils I couldn’t use in 10 lifetimes? Never know! Now, I’m OK with entertaining the notion that I might, in a pinch, need to buy something again. The more in-depth I’ve been going, however, the less likely that might be the case.

I’ll probably keep downsizing these writing instruments.

If I were an artist that was going through a pencil or pen a week, it would make sense to keep all of these. Since I’m not, I’ll let some thrift stores have them, and if artists can cheaply purchase these schoolwork objects for their own drawings, great. If not, it’s me reducing the size of this collection, first. [And if they throw them away, sorry.] When I move out of this apartment-mansion next year, I might only have one box of these legacy writing instruments.

Better than ten or three boxes.

For an example of closing out a collection entirely, I am now down to two board games. Both might be rudimentarily interesting, so over the next few days, I’ll look over these two board games to see if I might be interested in learning to play them. Here’s the catch: If I don’t allocate that time, they’re gone in next week’s thrifting run or I’ll see if any friends want them. No exceptions. If I am enthralled by either or both, then I’ll see who might be interested in playing them with me.

More likely, I just own[ed] them for curiosity.

Let the thrift stores and social media aggregators contain the clutter of 100 collections. I just need 3.

Quotes: [1] IDKFA.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: Between the conversation I had with IDKFA, the choking point of clutter in the apartment, and a hour wait in a health clinic lobby, I had a lot to think about and process. I wrote this essay in two chunks – 19 words on March 14th and the rest on March 18th – and I’m happy to report that on April 4th when I’m editing this, I’ve made significant progress. I can only imagine that I’ve since made more progress upon this essay’s publication.
Related: Other Downsizing Zeal essays.
Above: The downsizing wall contemporary to this essay’s writing.
Below: The Cradle of Filth show that inspired the discussion about missing out on buying the new CD because they didn’t have it at the merch booth. Merch booth photo not included because although I enjoy vulgarities, they have to be relevant or poignant, otherwise they’re wasted on juvenile enterprises.
Written On: March 14th [19 words], March 18th [rest]
Last Edited: April 4th [5 minutes of light editing for clarification throughout]

My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.